Architects invest great effort in specifying products. The objective, of course, is to get the best quality products for the clients' budget that also support the project's design goals and performance criteria. Windows and doors have a big impact on the design, sustainability, and how well the structure handles weather extremes—wind, rain, snow, and the hot summer sun.
How do architects ensure they're making the right choice? Most are loyal to window and door brands whose products not only meet design goals but also possess the energy efficiency, weather performance, and durability they require.
An architect also needs a manufacturer and dealer who will stand behind the product. Great warranty support is crucial. While you can get a sense of manufacturer support by talking with other design pros, there's no substitute for experience.
"Over the years we have specified many different window and door brands,” says Elizabeth Demetriades, AIA, a partner at Demetriades + Walker in Lakeville, Conn. "We've had a collection of disappointments and bad experiences, but we keep going back to those brands that perform well and that come with great support." The firm prefers window and door brands with a 20-year warranty for glass, cladding, and wood.
Demetriades says it's crucial for the manufacturer to have good field support. "We work closely with the manufacturer's architectural consultant to flesh out technical issues," she says. Examples include the maximum sizes in triple and double-glazing for a particular window, and the construction details for installing the window in a thick wall with double studs. The firm also wants a field rep who will respond quickly if the contractor has installation questions.
When it comes to communicating these benefits to homeowners, Demetriades says that while they trust her to make product recommendations, they also want to understand the reason behind those recommendations, and confirmation that they have made an intelligent choice.
Also, some hands-on time with the product is helpful. "That's why we have product samples in our office," she says. "We will put a window sample on the conference table, let them try it, and tell them why it's the one we recommend," Demetriades says.
But her clients are not purely focused on looks; most are quite sophisticated when it comes to products. They like details. "They want to hear about the technical features that determine the window's performance. They're fascinated with the details about low-E coatings, double glazing, and the like."
For design and planning resources for windows and doors, visit JELD-WEN’s tools and resources for architects.